Gospel Wakefulness (2011) by Jared Wilson is one of several recent books calling Christians back to the gospel. Wilson is a good writer. He's combines his wisdom with a writing style that makes him fun to read. In this book, he also shares his heart, which adds richness to the book.
Starting at the books conclusion, his friend said to him, "I feel like all this gospel-centered this and gospel-centered that is just our version of 'smurfy'". Wilson doesn't think so and I hope he is right. This book demonstrates the centrality of the gospel in all things. I never get tired of it and it is clear that Wilson does not either.
The influences of Luther, Piper, and Edwards come through in this book. (At times, perhaps Brother Lawrence as well). Wilson is clearly a student of Calvinism, but not just any Calvinism--the Calvinism that beholds the majesty of God, basking in the wonder of his never ending glory. He writes, "there are only two steps to gospel wakefulness: be utterly broken and utterly awed. But neither of these things are things you can really do. They are things only God can do for you" (p. 35). His gospel wakefulness has a necessary dependence upon a gracious God.
Wilson also suggests "one of the marks of gospel wakefulness is the failure of anything else to thrill the soul like the gospel" (p. 59). I know where he is coming from. The gospel fills my thoughts--it fills my affections--yet I long for a deeper and deeper filling of God.
Another aspect of this book that I really enjoyed were the stories from his gospel wakened friends. "Andrew's Story" was particularly moving (p. 162ff). Andrew is a young man who has suffered with a deep depression. He reflects on the the holy week. He writes, "I'm so afraid. The thought of my God asphyxiating on a Roman cross is too much. The image of him lifeless, wrapped in a burial shroud--the blood is not even wet--hurts so much that I can barely breathe. Man himself has killed his only hope. To see all-surpassing Love and to beat it without mercy, to nail it senselessly to a slab of poorly fashioned wood--what is despair if it is not that? It's sickening. When Love is gone, what is there left to believe in?
"But Easter Sunday always comes. It comes while the world sleeps. It comes with the gentle fury that only God almighty could bring to pass. In the twilight of the world's end, we have the subversion of death itself. It happened here on this earth. No one even knew.
"I cannot grasp it. It is too unbelievable, to unreal, to imagine. To bring life out of nothingness. It cuts me so deep. Hope resounds even in the darkest corners of the earth. That Love could defeat cruelty, misery, fear, suffering--can you believe that?
"Even the darkest night will turn to morning. The sun is always rising. Even the worst sinners can be made clean. Evil--Death itself--obliterated by Love. Saturday is over, Sunday is here."
Does this move you? Does the gospel rock your world? Or do you find yourself racing through your quiet time so that you can "get on" with your day? Do you wish the pastor would hurry up so you can start watching the game? Do you skip out on singing at church or are you holding back the tears, contemplating the wonder of the gospel?
That's what this book is about. 5 stars.